CARMEL -- Thomas Harmas was hired as the new principal of the state's largest high school by the Carmel Clay School Board Monday night.
He becomes the first new principal at the school of 5,000 students in 14 years.
Harmas is no stranger to Carmel students and families -- the 56-year old oversaw the opening of Carmel Clay Schools' Creekside Middle School and was the sole principal there for the past 14 years.
Harmas says he is steeped in the “excellence” of Carmel Clay yet understands the need to tweak and improve offerings at Carmel High School for students in grades 9-to-12.The school has consistently been rated an A on the states’ A-to-F accountability scale.
“You have to realize, Carmel High School is a school of excellence. So to walk in there and start doing things without truly understanding would be a big mistake," he says. "So, to be able to talk, listen and learn -- I think is my number one goal.”
Harmas replaces John Williams who is retiring in July after 40 years in education. Williams recently told WFYI that when he started running the school 14 years ago, he was struck by the high expectations for academics and overall school culture that came from teachers, students, and parents.
“The challenge for me was to make sure I was doing the same thing,” Williams says. “Because, if you don’t bring your A-game to a place like Carmel, you will stick out like a sore thumb.”
Harmas' new salary was not available Monday night, according to a district spokesperson. Williams was paid $167,763 in 2016, according to the state's employee compensation report.
Harmas' soon-to-be former school, Creekside Middle is an A-rated school and enrolled 1,252 students in the 2016-17 school year. The school earned a National Blue Ribbon School Award and become a state training site for best practices for teaching students with autism.
Superintendent Nicholas Wahl says a search to find the next Creekside principal will begin immediately.
Harmas began his teaching career as a history teacher at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar, south of Indianapolis. He later helped open Avon’s high school before becoming the principal at Mount Vernon Middle School. He joined Carmel Clay Schools in 2003.
He is a graduate of Warren Central High School and Indiana University.